Introducing Emma Grover, printmaker:
Emma works in a variety of print media including etching, collagraph, screen and mono print. She also combines coloured tissue and printed paper with printed images using the ‘chine colle’ technique.
Emma is head of the foundation course, in charge of printmaking and Fine Art at Lancaster and Morecambe College.
She won the Gavin Graham Gallery Award in 2001 for the National print exhibition.
A lot of your work that we have here at Jam has a flight or bird theme – was that a conscious choice?
I will often just play with combinations of people and machines or creatures just to see where my imagination will take me. Birds and flight fascinate me and I do seem to return to this again and again. The work tries to show strong characters both male and female but particularly female who are unfettered by reality and are free to exist without any restraints. Flight seems to offer this ultimate freedom.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
My favourite part is drawing and painting. I love just seeing where it will end up. I can’t think of a better place to be than in my studio making things.
Do you already know what you’re going to draw or print when you start a piece (or do preliminary sketches) or is it a more spontaneous approach?
Mostly it is spontaneous, I just start drawing or painting and see where it goes. Some days this is successful, some days not so. This can be within sketchbooks, small scale drawings, monoprints or large scale. Sometimes the work will reflect things that have happened during the day, or record things around me, sometimes they are purely from the imagination. I will also rework ideas again and again until I have exhausted them and then I look for the next thing.
Screen printing I treat like the drawing, I have a series of marks, blocks and drawings on screens and I then print these in different combinations, colours and compositions resulting in series of works that are each different but related. I will also rework these using painting, drawing and monoprint. I have no idea or plan what the finished piece will look like and I will just keep reworking these until they feel resolved. With these I tend to work on a large series maybe 30 – 40 as the process lends itself to this.
When I move onto plate making and especially for etchings I use previous drawings or mono prints to translate onto the plates. The making of etchings can be quite time consuming with plates needing multiple etches to achieve the depth and quality of line that I want. Not to have planned the plates beforehand can lead to costly and avoidable errors.
I never just work on one thing at a time. I have loads of things on the go, which I keep returning to again and again in an effort to try and finish some of them.
What artists’ work do you admire?
I couldn’t name just one artist, that would be too difficult. I love the work of Paula Rego particularly her etchings which always have a darkly sinister edge to them, but I do enjoy the narrative within them. Like wise for Ana Marie Pacheco. Painters whose work I like are numerous, I like the work of Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, Fiona Rae and Marlene Dumas. Oh, and Mark Francis and Ian McKeever, Antonio Tapies sorry I could go on.
What’s your current favourite piece of your own work?
This is a hard one to answer. I would say it is always the ones that I am working on at the time. Then I finish some of them and it becomes the next piece or pieces.